SALEM: Hundreds of men, women and children kept gazing at the sunny sky eager to catch - many with their mobile phones - a glimpse of an aircraft making its first landing here.At 9.50 am, the 72-seater ATR aircraft of True Jet Airways appeared as a faint speck on the eastern sky above the Sheveroyan range of hills. In a few minutes, it touched down and pulled smoothly into the tiny Salem Airport’s tarmac. On board were a load of VVIPs, including Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Union Minister for State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan and Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey.
A long line was already forming at True Jet’s ticket counter at the airport for the first flight to Chennai. Many were people of ordinary means and had wanted to have a flying experience or the thrill of being part of the maiden trip. The fare was Rs 1,499 (each) for 36 seats and the rest at Rs 1,600 to Rs 1,810. Turbo Megha Airways (the holding company of True Jet) Managing Director Prem Kumar said all tickets were sold out for Sunday and Monday and termed it a successful start.
The chief minister flagged off the first commercial flight from Salem at 11 am.The tier 2 town has just joined the aviation map. Coming up next is Hosur. “We hope to introduce services from Neyveli, Thanjavur and Vellore before this year-end,” Choubey said.